When we moved into our new house, this garden area was already here, and it fell right in the middle of where the dog yard would be. There didn’t seem to be much growing in it but I finally identified some oregano on one end of it. I didn’t plan to do a lot of gardening our first year here, but I wanted to do something simple in this area to make it prettier. I didn’t want to have to fence it off from the dogs. Since I enjoy cooking with fresh herbs, and even use some in Sheba’s homemade meal toppers as part of her cancer diet, I thought an herb garden would be simple and make sense.
I enjoy gardening, but to be honest, I’m not always that good at it! I also try to garden organically which makes it even more challenging. Herbs seem to be fairly easy. All you need is some sunshine and well drained soil. Herbs do prefer full sunshine unless you live in a very hot climate where some shade might be in order (ours just happens to be shaded in the early morning). You can add fertilizer or compost as well, but I would need to consider the dog safety of that so I didn’t even bother with it this year. I put some seeds in some pots to get some started, and then I also bought a few plants at our local garden center. I had planted basil seeds, but they were growing too slowly for me and I wanted some for Sheba’s meals. I found a plant at our grocery store, it was from a local garden center, and it was only $3.00! That plant is actually doing quite well now.
Eventually I moved everything I had in pots into the herb garden. I read that even though herbs will grow in pots, they prefer to get in the ground where they can really spread their roots. I thought of Samantha’s catnip plant which was looking kind of sad. I decided to put it in the garden for a while to hopefully bring it back to life. Then I can move it back into a bigger pot for the winter on her windowsill. I was happy to find out it is safe for the dogs.
That is the important thing here, and I was happy to find many herbs I use are safe for dogs and some like basil and parsley are actually quite good for them. I planted my favorites that I know are safe, but you would want to be sure you checked on any herb your dog can have access too. I didn’t find a list specific to herbs for dog safety, but again the ASPCA’s list of poisonous plants covers herbs as well.
I enjoyed putting this little garden together, and I used some small fences to protect things from getting trampled by the dogs. That way they can run through there chasing the ball, or sniff around in there if they want. Even if you don’t use herbs for cooking, many have pretty flowers, and they also smell so good! If you cook with them though, some like basil you want to snip the flowers off to keep it growing better. Some day I hope to learn to dry them as well so I can use my own throughout the winter (I’ve frozen some in the past which works with some varieties too).
Some herbs like oregano will come back year after year. Some oreganos and mints can be very “invasive” though, meaning they’ll take over your garden if you don’t keep them under control. I had that happen with oregano at our old house – it really took over my flower garden and it was hard to get out. I don’t believe all varieties will do that though. Next year I hope to try milk thistle, which is supposed to be good for dogs.
True confession time. I left this yellow flower in the herb garden, thinking it was just a weed and that the flowers were pretty. When going through these photos and seeing Luke with the flower, I decided to try to be sure of what it was. I found out that it was an herb, probably a perennial that the previous owner had planted, St. John’s Wort. Well, imagine my dismay when I found it on the toxic to dogs plant list! I immediately removed it. The worst thing here was not only that it could be toxic if ingested, but it could cause skin rashes as well! Thank goodness nothing like that happened with Luke.
I’ll be writing more about different types of toxicity in a future post. The point here is that some plants can have oils or thorns that can be harmful. That’s another good reason to be careful about what plants your dogs can get into. It’s also important to just be sure that your dogs don’t eat plants in the yard; even if you might think everything you have is safe. I watch Luke and Sheba to be sure the only thing they chomp on is grass; I think it’s just a good practice. At least I know that this herb garden is now safe for them when I can’t keep my eye on them every minute.
Do you have an herb garden for yourself or your dogs?
Watch for future posts in our series, and here are links to previous ones:
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Quiz – Do you know what these plants are and if they are safe for your dogs? Even though the prize giveaway is now closed, you can still have fun with this quiz and then find the answers in Part 3.
Part 3 – Quiz answers